Slieve Gullion

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Name Slieve Gullion County Armagh Nearest Town Newry Access Road A1 About

One of the most iconic natural landmarks in County Armagh is Slieve Gullion ,a mountain in the south of the county bordering on County Louth. The mountain forms the core of the Ring of Gullion and stands as the highest point in the county with an elevation of 573 metres.

Slieve Gullion plays a prominent role in the mythology and history of the area surrounding it and dominates the countryside around it, offering views of as far away as Connacht and Dublin in favorable weather conditions. The mountain is visible from north of Dublin as you travel North and is west of the Cooley Mountains in County Louth and the Mourne Mountains in County Down, although from this distance they appear to all of the same range.

Slieve Gullion is the eroded remains of a Paleocene volcanic complex. It is surrounded by a ring dyke. Slieve Gullion has been shaped by glaciations and exhibits a classic ‘crag and tail’ glacial feature. The ‘tail’, composed of glacial deposits, points south, ending at Dromintee village.

Two cairns exist on top of the mountain on either side of the lake – the Northern one is a circular mound of stones approx. 40 feet in diameter whilst the Southern one is a large, well preserved passage grave which is the highest yet discovered in Ireland.

Much of the surface of Slieve Gullion is covered with forest, heather, or raw stone while an amount of 1,500 hectares of dry heath on the mountain have been designated and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Traces of fields on the mountain’s poor soil from farming in earlier times can still be seen as well as evidence of quarrying. Today Slieve Gullion is used for little economic production but is popular with visitors and trekers with scenic road access up to about half of the mountain’s elevation and remains of an old trail allowing easy access to the summit.

Slive Gullion Forest Park is part of the mountain and has superb facilities for walking, camping and hiking

The mountain features in the epic poem Tain Bo Cuailnge. It is also suggested that this is the area where Cuchullain lived as a child. There are many local legends about Slieve Gullion involving the Cailleca Beara (a witch who transforms into a hare). Slieve Gullion also features in the Fenian Cycle, where a tale is told of Finn McCool being tricked by the Cailleach Beara into jumping into the Mountain’s lake, from which he emerges an old and withered man. The Fianna force the Cailleach Beara to restore the erstwhile hero back to his former self but Finn never regains the true color of his hair, it remaining white as an old man for the rest of his life.

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